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Performance anxiety!

(8 Posts)
Theas18 Sun 18-Nov-12 15:05:51


Dunno where to post this really but I'm worried about ds.

He is an able, even talented musician. Group work and solos in groups he does well. Auditions though are another kettle of fish.

Interestingly I think it stems from an audition 18 months ago when, due to medication his lips split and bled stopping him playing well. He failed that audition. The year later he was shaking when it started. He's just had a singing audition that was fine until he turned 2 pages in the sight reading and again went to bits. Ok this was one where he was putting a lot of stress on himself etc just by doing it because of who it was etc, ad I'm sure that made it worse.

How do we straighten this out? I'm looking at trying some NLP maybe?

He's got grade 8 soon...

Music isn't his ultimate aim probably, but getting over this would be worried about him sad

1805 Sun 18-Nov-12 17:24:59

I don't know what NLP is - sorry.

Not exactly sure what you are asking for, but I'll offer my advice.......

It sounds like he needs to understand that exams/auditions are not the end of the world. They are experiences.

For every 'passed' audition, there will be 'failures' too. If he really wants to go for one particular thing, have him take a few irrelevant auditions playing the same pieces prior to the BIG one.

Nerves are a different matter though I think. If he can be prepared for nerves to hit, he can concoct a coping method i.e. - deep breathing, relaxing shoulders, closing eyes, I even knew someone who used to bend their knees at the start of the performance to distract the brain a little! It worked for them!

I used to feel sick before performing, and get the shakes during. It passes if you can work through them.

Hope this helps.

Theas18 Sun 18-Nov-12 21:00:03

Thanks 1805 he has things pretty well in perspective I think, he knows they aren't the end of the world. It's just the daft switch that flips when something goes wrong that he can't control- he knows cognitively that a slip our several is normal and to carry on is the thing, but he just can't manage it sometimes.
The actual physical shaking is new, and that if really performance impairing.

Neuro linguistic programming is some sort of Psychological techniques to try to get round it.

I'm just a but worried that this will start toaffect him more generally with uni interviews looming etc

Colleger Sun 18-Nov-12 21:21:40

Does he need to sit grade 8 at the moment? I wouldn't push him until he has learnt to cope with his nerves. He will still be a grade 8 player. What does he play?

Theas18 Sun 18-Nov-12 22:15:50

He wants to do grade 8 though (recorder) he's being playing at the standard for a couple of years. It won't be a challenge to him (ok except f sharp minor... Which he tells me is 95% consistent at the moment-We've just been chatting about it) . He's generally pretty chilled about exams etc - it's just that something triggers if things go awry. I don't think putting it off would help. It certainly hasn't yet become a biggie that's put him off ( for instance the other thing we chatted about tonight was acting call backs tomorrow acting call backs for the school musical) .

Maybe it'll all just go away as quickly as its started and I'm worrying un necessarily.

He's 16, he pushes himself to do stuff, we certainly don't push, and his recorder teacher is the very antithesis of pushy. Last exam may have been grade 5 lol ( maybe the piano teachers strategy of do every exam , resulting at least 2/year and no let up , was putting the exams " in their place" ? He certainly hasn't done many over the last year because of gcses)

pianomama Mon 19-Nov-12 16:23:14

A trick I heard from someone on Radio 4 recently was to change the word "nervous" or ""anxious" in your head to "excited". Is that NLP?

If he was younger, I would definitely suggested to try to be calm yourself as our children do feed from our anxieties and often nervous mothers make their DC nervous without realizing it. Don't know if this is still the case at 16 though.

Colleger Mon 19-Nov-12 18:54:09

What about performing at events/auditions that he doesn't care about. Get him to sit grade 7 or perform in a concert that is quite low brow.

flussymummy Mon 19-Nov-12 20:06:15

Huge sympathies with your DS! I had awful problems with performance anxiety at this stage and beyond (all the way up to 3rd at music college). I lost count of the number of performances and auditions that I was visibly shaking through. Apologies to 1805- I don't think it has anything to do with perspective- I understood all of that and was perfectly matter-of-fact about it all until I got on stage or into an exam room and it would all go wrong!
However, things did get better and I'd like to share my experience in the hope that it'll work for your DS too.
I met the most wonderful pianist - Alasdair Beatson, who was remarkably still at school at this time, but had a great idea about nerves. He reckoned that they are connected to the "fight or flight" principle- that if you're scared of something the best thing to do is to run away from it. So every time he accompanied me he used to get me to run up and down outside the concert hall a few times until I was properly tired, and then he'd say some really daft things to make me laugh- worked a treat. I suspect that the endorphins released might just counteract the anxiety.
Other tricks that seemed to work well were lots and lots of performance experience of the pieces to be played in the exam- go and perform in a local primary school, old people's home, busk in the street etc- start with unthreatening situations and work up to playing for your peers, extended family. Also, go to sleep each night thinking picturing yourself walking into the room and nailing the piece- the power of positive thinking!
Apologies for the long post- hope this helps!

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